Heng Swee Keat Announces Enhanced Property Tax Rebates, Urges Landlords To Pass Rebates To Tenants

To help businesses overcome immediate challenges, the Resilience Budget, announced by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat on Thursday (26 Mar), aims to address relieve the costs of businesses affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.

In his speech, he declared that the Government will enhance the property tax rebate announced for the Unity Budget in February, as well as enhance rental waivers for its tenants.

However, he also urged landlords who benefit from the rebates to pass on the savings to their tenants by reducing their rent, easing the pressure on them to make ends meet.

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Commercial properties will pay no property tax

According to Mr Heng, qualifying commercial properties that are adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic will not need to pay property tax for 2020.

These commercial properties include the likes of hotels, service apartments, tourist attractions, shops and restaurants.

Previously, under the Unity Budget announced in February, these commercial properties enjoyed a 15% to 30% property tax rebate.

Businesses in other non-residential properties, such as offices and industrial properties, will be granted a property tax rebate of 30% for the year 2020.

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Upgraded rental waivers for tenants of government-managed properties

To support tenants, the Government is also enhancing rental waivers for tenants of properties it manages.

Stallholders in hawker centres managed by the National Environment Agency (NEA) or its appointed operators will get 3 months of rental waiver, up from 1 month announced in the Unity Budget.

Other government agencies, such as the Housing & Development Board (HDB) and the National Arts Council, will give 2 months of rental waiver to eligible tenants, up from half a month announced in the Unity budget — some of the organisations that will benefit include social service agencies and charities.

Non-residential tenants not included in the above will still enjoy half a month of rental waiver.

Additionally, all governmental fees and charges will be frozen for 1 year, from 1 Apr, 2020 to 31 Mar, 2021.

DPM Heng urges landlords to reduce their tenants’ rental

Some tenants have pointed out that the rebates announced by the Unity Budget were not passed on by their landlords.

Thus, in his speech, Mr Heng appealed to landlords who will benefit from the property tax rebate to pass on the savings to tenants:

Many businesses have pointed out that it will be a lose-lose situation if landlords do not support their tenants. After all, if tenants fail, the properties will be empty.

Reducing the rent of tenants will help ease the cash flow and cost pressures they face. He then reiterated:

Do your part, chip in, and give additional help to tenants who are more badly hit.

Hopefully business cost pressures are reduced

With all these measures, the cost pressures that businesses in Singapore face should be slightly alleviated.

To the landlords rejoicing over not having to pay property tax this year, don’t be greedy and think about your tenants too.

We need to stand together as a nation to help one another in times of need. While it may be tempting to just charge your tenants the same rental and solely reap the benefits of the rebate, it will not help anyone in the long run if your tenants are bleeding.

To all businesses weathering the Covid-19 storm, hang in there.

Featured image adapted from The Best Singapore.